Forecasts Predict Winter Will Arrive Late and Leave Early This Year
Winter has been arriving later, bringing milder conditions, and staying for shorter periods of time over the past several years, and this year is set to continue the trend.
The first freeze of the year has been steadily moving later, with the first thaw arriving earlier as well, making winters shorter and milder, according to data from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
A warmer winter can be more favorable to growing conditions, but it can also damage plants that need lower temperatures while raising water levels and potentially causing flooding, Associated Press reported.
Last year’s first freeze arrived two weeks later than the 20th century average, making it “way off the charts,” Ken Kunkel, a meteorologist at NOAA told AP.
Two thirds of the U.S. is predicted to see warmer-than-average temperatures this winter, including the entire east coast, Hawaii, and even Alaska.
The warmer temperatures are due in part to the effects of climate change, including an increased level of carbon dioxide, according to Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center. Forecasters also pointed to the potential effects of weather system La Niña in changing precipitation levels and temperatures.
“It does, undoubtedly, play a role,” he said in a call with reporters. “The increase in CO2 factors into our model forecast.”
Last year ranked as the sixth warmest winter on record, The Washington Post reported. This winter is expected to be slightly cooler than last year’s.